Ajinkya Rahane, who was India’s stand-in captain during 2020-21 tour of Australia, has opened a can of worms by claiming in an interview that someone ‘stole’ his credit for the series victory. India had bounced back and registered a historic 2-1 Test series win Down Under after getting bundled out for 36 in the first match at Adelaide.
India’s then Test captain Virat Kohli flew out of Australia after the ignominious thrashing in the opening game to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Rahane then led the injury-battered team to a memorable series victory. He also smashed a match-winning 112 at the MCG as India won the Test by eight wickets.
“I know what I’ve done there. I don’t need to tell anyone. That’s not my nature to go and take credit. Yes, there were some things that I took the decisions on the field or in the dressing room but someone else took the credit for it. (What was) important for me was that we won the series. That was a historical series and for me, that was really special,” he said.
“The reactions from people or those who took credit or what was said on the media, ‘I did this’ or ‘This was my decision’, or ‘This was my call’, it was for them to talk about,” he added.
“From my end, I knew what decisions I took on the field and decisions I took on my instincts.
“Yes, we talked with the management too, but I laugh about it when people claim they did or suggested this. I never talk much about myself or praise myself. But what I did there, I knew,” he stated.
Though, he didn’t take anyone’s name, Rahane’s target seems to be the then Head Coach Ravi Shastri who, after the series victory, has given many interviews about the series win. In those interviews, Shastri spoke so passionately about the team and revealed many behind-the-scenes incidents that happened during the series. Shastri surely revelled in the adulation bestowed upon him by the media, but to be fair he made it a point to give credit to all the players and the members of the support staff.
So, was Rahanne not praised enough for his captaincy during the Australia series? That’s far from truth. A host of former and current cricketers – Ian Chappell, Sunil Gavaskar, Ricky Ponting, Virender Sehwag, to name a few – had showered effusive plaudit on him for his tactical nous and leadership skills.
“Rahane’s captaincy has been brilliant. Rahane’s field placements, bowling changes have all been pretty much spot on. I think he’s done a great job to pick up the pieces from Adelaide with this team, lead really well in the field yesterday and you can see he’s playing like a captain now as well,” Ponting had said.
What perhaps could also have hurt Rahane is the fact that R Ashwin gave Shastri the credit for bringing him to bowl early in the Australia’s first innings at the MCG. Ashwin snuffed out Matthew wade and dangerous Steve Smith, which gave India a massive fillip.
“Ravi Shastri came into the dressing room and thundered, ‘ASSHHHH, get the ball in the first 10 overs’. I was just wearing my pants. I thought why does he want me to bowl in the first 10 overs in Melbourne?” Ashwin had said in a conversation with India’s former fielding coach R Sridhar.
Ashwin added that Shashtri told him it might be damp, it might spin, and he (Shastri) had conveyed this to Jinks (Rahane). “Bumrah bowled a good spell. Jinks then gave me the ball and the first ball I bowled, it spun a lot and bounced as well. I was like wow,” the veteran off-spinner had said.
However, Rahane contested this fact in the interview and revealed that it was his, not Shastri’s, idea to give the bowl to Ashwin at that juncture. “Bringing Ashwin in the ninth over was completely instinctive and that played off really well. It got Matthew Wade out and Steve Smith out in two overs. I won’t say that it completely turned the game in our favour after that but I will admit that was a decision which was purely on instinct. Wicket was looking damp. After the pacers went about in the first three-four overs I felt I should use Ashwin in Melbourne and the time in now,” he said.
The jury is out on whose version is true.
Rahane’s hurt could also have emanated from the fact that since his splendid 112 at the MCG, his batting form has gone off the boil. Since the MCG Test, he has only eked out 479 runs at an average of 20.82 in 13 Tests. On the recent South Africa tour, he managed only 136 runs from six innings at an average of 22.67. Owing to his abysmal form, he was removed as the vice-captain of the Test team in December. His place in the Test team now is also in jeopardy.
From someone who was placed on a pedestal by everyone after India’s stupendous triumph in Australia in 2020-21 to being reduced to a player who has not only lost vice-captaincy due to his poor form but his place in the side is also under the scanner, the downward trajectory his career has taken in a year is astonishing.
At a time, when the media and people are baying for his blood, he perhaps wants to send a reminder of his undeniably spectacular feats of the past. His words have done the talking. Time for his bat to blaze and shut down all his detractors.